APM Blog

Friday, 17 November 2017 04:43

Superfoods for a Fiercer You

When searching for pain relief, look no further than your own backyard – or your local farmer’s market. These four foods fresh from the garden – or pot – pack super pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory power.

Mint

Infusing mint into your tea or ice water can refresh and rejuvenate – and relieve your headaches and general aches and pains. Gardening expert Melinda Myers suggests growing this vigorous perennial herb in a container so it won’t overtake your other plants. It’s also easy to grow indoors near a sunny window.

Hot Peppers

Capsaicin, the spicy element in chili, jalapeno, habanero and cayenne peppers, is a great pain-fighting tool and is often used in topical creams to help treat backaches, arthritis and muscle pain. “Plant hot peppers after the soil and air warm, usually around Memorial Day,” advises Myers. They will be ready to harvest in late July and early August. Try drying some to enjoy year round.

Cherries

Muscle pain and inflammation beware! Cherries contain a heavy punch of antioxidants, and can block inflammation and inhibit pain enzymes in much the same way as aspirin and other NSAIDs. Although it takes several years for cherry plants to start producing fruit, according to Myers, sour cherries grow well in Wisconsin. Just make sure to cover the plants with netting so the birds don’t eat your harvest.

Ginger

Ginger can help reduce inflammation and combat migraines, muscle pain, arthritis and post workout (or post-gardening) soreness – all on top of its nausea-fighting power. Although it’s a tropical plant, says Myers, “enthusiastic gardeners have had success rooting the rhizomes (the part you eat) and starting new plants.” Try growing it indoors like a houseplant in winter and then move it outdoors for the summer.

Learn More

For more tips, including pain-fighting recipe ideas, download your free Gardening Toolkit at www.apmhealth.com/Melinda.

Weed Out The Pain Toolkit Download

Published in Superfoods
Thursday, 16 November 2017 07:40

18 Simple, Healthy Habits To Reduce Back Pain

Are your bad habits the cause of your back pain and neck pain? Oftentimes, reducing back pain and neck pain can be as simple as making a few changes to how you sit, stand and sleep. For instance, maintaining a good posture can help stop back pain by keeping your natural spinal curves in their normal position, taking painful pressure off your spine. Consider implementing these simple solutions to help manage chronic pain and get you back to enjoying work and life.

Back Pain and Sleep

There's no doubt that a good night's sleep is important. But back pain and sleep don't often go well together. While a restful 6- to 9-hour sleep can help your body and muscles recover, upper and lower back pain makes it harder to sleep, reducing your body’s ability to heal. Here are some easy solutions to help you sleep better with back pain. 

  1. Avoid sleeping on your stomach to help reduce back pain. 
  2. The best sleeping position for back pain is on your side. Keep your body straight and resist the urge to curl up into a ball. This position keeps the spine in alignment from the neck down, reducing the chance of pain. 
  3. Lessen the risk of back pain insomnia while sleeping on your side by putting a pillow between your knees, keeping your body in alignment. Pillows can help back sleepers reduce pain, as well. Simply place one or more under your knees to help prevent lower back pain caused by your spine arching too much. 
  4. In addition to altering your sleep position, back pain can be reduced with the help of a firm mattress and a supportive pillow.

Avoid Back Pain While Sitting

Back pain during long periods of sitting is a common phenomenon. Sitting actually puts more stress on your spine than walking or standing. But, thankfully, there are some easy fixes for back pain, neck pain and shoulder pain that occur while sitting.

  1. Poor sitting posture is to blame for a lot of upper back pain and lower back pain while sitting, as well as neck pain and shoulder pain. Good posture means less pain. To reduce pain when sitting, sit up straight, with your ears, shoulders and hips in line. Place both feet flat on the ground, with thighs parallel to the floor.
  2. Avoid back pain while sitting by sitting on your "sitting bones," not your tailbone. This might mean you have to add a blanket or cushion underneath you to ensure your knees aren't higher than your hips.
  3. To maintain proper sitting posture, buy a good chair with a firm, flat seat and plenty of lower back support. A chair with good lumbar support can help you avoid a sore back. If your chair doesn't have lumbar support, avoid back pain by putting a small pillow or rolled up towel between your lower back and the chair. 

Stand Without Back Pain

Do you experience back pain from standing too long? Many people do. Fortunately, there are some easy solutions to help deal with it. 

  1. If you are standing for long periods, be sure to give your back a break. You can manage your back pain at home by bending forward and to the sides to a comfortable stretching position.
  2. Don't forget that supportive shoes reduce the risk of back pain and knee pain
  3. Proper posture can also help limit back pain while standing. Keep your ears, shoulders and hips aligned to help prevent pain. Also try to pull in your stomach and chin, while tilting your pelvis forward.
  4. Change your position often to lessen back pain and knee pain while at work or during long periods of standing in line. If possible, use a stool or block to rest one foot on.
  5. A back brace can help you maintain proper posture, providing back and abdominal support. It provides support for prolonged periods of standing or walking.

Reduce Back Pain When Walking

If you're wondering how to walk with back pain, consider these simple tips.

Walking can be a great form of excercise, but it may be difficult to figure out how to walk with back pain. These tips can help you get started.

  1. Like in every other area, posture matters. You can exercise with back pain by holding your head high, tucking in your chin and pointing your toes straight ahead. 
  2. Comfortable shoes are a must. Pick ones with an arch support to help reduce back soreness and leg soreness the next day. 
  3. To avoid back pain after your workout, stretch when you return home. And don't forget to hydrate. Water can even help keep your spine healthy, since it's an important component of spinal discs. 

Drive Comfortably Without Pain

Driving to work and on errands can be a pain - literally. Back pain while driving can make routine trips unbearable. Consider these tricks to lessen driving back pain.

  1. To reduce back pain while driving, apply the advice for sitting without back pain: Keep your back upright, sit on your "sitting bones" and make sure your knees aren't higher than your hips.
  2. Keep your shoulders back and put both hands on the wheel to reduce the chances of back pain and arm pain.
  3. If you need help to keep your back straight or your arms straight, consider a brack brace or a wrist brace. They reduce pain by providing support and limiting movement, which can be especialy helpful for herniated discschronic lumbar instability, degenerative disc disease, post-operative rehabilitation or severe sprains or strains.

Do you have any other additions to our list? Let us know in the comments!

If you have additional questions about your back pain, consider the benefits of seeing a pain management physician. Click the link below to download our free comprehensive Back Pain Guide, with expert information, facts and advice to help you relieve your back pain. 

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Published in Back Pain
Thursday, 16 November 2017 10:00

Low Impact Walking for Pain Relief

There is nothing quite like a walk on a crisp autumn day; watching the leaves fall from the trees and hearing the crunch of leaves beneath your shoes. But there is more to a good autumn walk than seeing the beautiful changing scenery. Did you know that walking is considered exercise and when completed regularly, walking can provide lasting health benefits? It’s true. The pain experts at Advanced Pain Managements have five more reasons why you should consider starting a walking exercise program.

  • Walking is cheap –No need for expensive gym memberships or countless DVD workout programs. If you decide to start a walking exercise program, all you need is a good pair of shoes! Walking can be done anywhere- outside, inside or even at the mall. If you walk outside, the fresh air and vitamin D can also help you relax and help improve your mood.
  • Pain and injury prevention – You might think getting more active can lead to more injuries, but it is just the opposite! Being active helps strengthen your muscles, bones and joints and can help you reduce pain. Walking for exercise has a minimal risk to degenerative joints, like knees, hips and the lumbar spine. This means that your body can still get a good workout without doing damage to joints. In addition, being active can help improve muscle flexibility and reduce those minor aches and pains. Walking also puts less stress on your spine than sitting.
  • Walking does a body good – Walking regularly as exercise has been medically shown to help prevent or reduce the symptoms of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and depression.
  • Improved sleep – Being active during the day can help your body become more restful at night. After a good workout, your body needs time to rest and recover which can often mean a better night’s sleep. Zzzz…
  • Kick-start a healthy lifestyle – Often, the first step to a healthy lifestyle is getting out and getting active! Walking regularly will help build your appetite, so fill up on healthy vegetables, protein and fruit and start a new healthy lifestyle.

Do you have any other walkign benefits to share? Let us know in the comments below.

Published in Acute and Chronic Pain

As the accessibility and convenience of going mobile has risen over the years, so has the toll it’s taken on our neck and back health. More than 2 trillion texts are sent in the U.S. annually and the average mobile phone user looks at his or her phone as many as 150 times per day. Pair these statistics with other technology use including desktop and laptop computers, tablets and more – and you’ve got a dangerous mix which causes a large amount of stress on the cartilage and tissue in the neck and upper spine. The risks of technology-causing iPain are real and preventable. Learn more about how you can prevent pain and treat areas of the body most affected with our iPain infographic. 

iPain Help Guide

Download your free opioids and pain in-depth guide

Published in Neck-Pain
Thursday, 16 November 2017 08:44

How Does Back Pain Affect Sleep?

If you suffer from acute or chronic pain, especially back pain, the thought of a good night’s rest may be only a dream. Most adults need 7 to 9 hours a night for the best amount of sleep, although some people may need as few as 6 hours or as many as 10 hours of sleep each day. Oftentimes, individuals who suffer from pain associated from back conditions experience additional issues with insomnia and sleeping disorders. According to the National Sleep Foundation, pain and sleep problems are significant. In the adult population, about 15% of those surveyed reported experiencing chronic pain. In older adults, the number increases to over 50%. Among those with pain, 2/3 reported poor or disrupted sleep.

Sleep is one of the most critical ways that we renew our mental and physical energy on a daily basis. While there are many conditions and environmental factors that cause sleep problems, disturbances in sleep can intensify many conditions – including back pain. If you suffer from chronic pain or acute back pain and it is effecting the quality of your sleep, it is essential that you incorporate effective strategies and a treatment plan that will aid sleep deprivation from interfering with work, driving and social activities. 

Pain and Sleep Facts:

  • Each year, at least 40 million Americans suffer from chronic, long-term sleep disorders, and an additional 20 million experience occasional sleeping problems.
  • 2/3 of chronic pain sufferers have sleep problems.
    • Sleep deprivation accounts for an estimated $16 billion in medical costs each year, while the indirect costs due to lost productivity and other factors are much greater.
    • Sleep complaints and related daytime symptoms occur in 54–70% of adult rheumatoid arthritis patients.
    • One study estimated that the prevalence of sleep disturbance among people with low-back pain is 58.7%.
  • 75% of patients with fibromyalgia complain of sleep disturbances.

Causes Of Sleep Problems When You Are In Pain

If you live with pain, you know that sometimes your only relief is when you are asleep. However, some people’s pain prevents them from finding a way to become comfortable – oftentimes leading to the development of sleep problems. These problems not only result in overtiredness, but may cause pain to worsen. Here are a few conditions that may trigger a sleep problem to develop:

  • Anxiety and depression can make it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep. Consequent sleep loss can lead to increased pain. Anxiety and depression may also increase a person’s sensitivity to pain.
  • Some breathing related sleep disorders are associated with obesity – and obesity is also linked with back pain. Sleep disorders like sleep apnea interfere with normal sleep patterns, leading to insufficient sleep and poor sleep quality.
  • Limb movement disorders, such as restless legs syndrome, might further disrupt the normal sleep pattern.
  • Fibromyalgia can cause pain throughout the body. It is also linked with fatigue, anxiety and sleep problems.
  • Many prescription medications can impair the quality of your sleep. For instance, medications for conditions such as high blood pressure, epilepsy and ADHD may also cause sleep problems.

If you'd like more information on sleep and pain, take a look at the best sleep positions for back and neck pain.

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Published in Sleep-and-Pain
Thursday, 16 November 2017 09:01

What is Anxiety?

The Medical Dictionary defines anxiety as “a painful or apprehensive uneasiness of mind, usually over an impending or anticipated ill.” This definition would suggest that anxiety seems to be a normal part of being human. All of us have worried about things like our finances, our health, or the well-being of those closest to us. Anxiety is even a healthy emotion, because it motivates us to plan for our future and, take care of ourselves. For example, without some anxiety, we might not pay our bills on time, watch what we eat or install smoke detectors.

So how can anxiety be a problem? There is a fine line between healthy and unhealthy anxiety. In general, anxiety can be unhealthy when it comes from irrational worries or fears about events that are unlikely to occur. For example, those who suffer from an anxiety condition called panic disorder may believe a sudden change in their heart rate is a sign they are about to have a heart attack. Individuals who have a generalized anxiety disorder might worry about not being able to pay their bills even though they have plenty of savings and have no debt. Anxiety is also unhealthy when it leads an individual to avoid activities, places, or people unnecessarily. Among those with chronic pain, for example, anxiety about causing injury or harm to the body is one of the biggest obstacles in the way of patients getting more physical activity.  Finally, anxiety that seems to increase your pain consistently, causes you to lose sleep, or causes you other physical symptoms; it is likely you are dealing with anxiety of the unhealthy kind.

So what do I do about anxiety? Although there are various types of anxiety problems, treatments for each type share some common elements. Simply put, treatments involve making changes in three areas: changes in physical experiences, changes in behavior and changes in thoughts. Making changes in physical experience might include learning how to relax and learning how to tell the difference between tense and relaxed muscles. Changes in behavior could include challenging oneself to confront those things that are typically avoided: e.g. increasing physical activity despite fears that to do so would cause damage to the body. Finally, making changes in thought involves looking at the ways in which we think of events. By keeping a record of thoughts that occur along with anxiety, for example, one can detect ways in we might exaggerate potential dangers.  

Published in Anxiety
Thursday, 16 November 2017 07:33

4th of July parade? Proper Sitting Posture

With the 4th of July come things like cookouts, parades, fireworks and…oh yeah, a lot of sitting. This Independence Day, don’t jeopardize your posture for a good time. Although sitting puts more stress on your spine than if you’re walking or standing, maintaining proper sitting posture can help you avoid minor aches and pains this holiday.

Poor Sitting Posture



Good Sitting Posture

How to sit with good posture:

  • Choose a chair with a firm, flat seat
  • Keep both feet flat on the floor, with thighs parallel to the floor
  • Sit on sitting bones, not your tailbone
  • Keep your chest lifted and shoulders pressed down below your ears
  • If your knees are higher than your hips, add a blanket or cushion below your bottom
  • Avoid slouching or sitting up too straight

Tip: Using a chair with correct lower lumbar support can help keep your back comfortable. Of course, if you are enjoying the summer weather and sitting on patio furniture, this isn’t always an option. To make your own lumbar support, try placing a small pillow or even a folded up sweatshirt between your lower back and the chair. For more tips on health and exercise, take a look at our other helpful eBooks

Chronic pain plagues more that 116 million American adults and diet may be contributing to this staggering statistic. Did you know that if you look around your kitchen you could find foods that fight inflammation, block pain signals and can even heal underlying disease? Moreover, did you know that a typical Western-style diet is rich with foods that promote inflammation, which include highly processed foods and refined carbohydrates?

 “Eating more fruits and vegetables alone will not alleviate your pain,” says Advanced Pain Management (APM) physician Michael Jung. “But if you commit to a healthy eating plan that includes less processed foods and more fresh foods, you will likely see positive results.”

What does he suggest? Take a look at a few tasty tips below.

CherriesCherries
The power-packed cherry has the ability to help with muscle pain and general inflammation. Why? The compounds in cherries that give them a bright red color, called anthocyanins, pack a heavy punch of antioxidants. These compounds block inflammation and inhibit pain enzymes in the same way that aspirin and other NSAIDS work, says Jung. In fact, a recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition confirms that cherry consumption can in fact help healthy adults reduce inflammation.[1]

CoffeeCoffee
If you experience headaches and are not a regular coffee drinker, you might see some benefit from having a cup or two when a headache strikes. Caffeine helps narrow the dilated blood vessels that often cause headache pain, says Jung. But beware; too much coffee can exacerbate headache pain.

GingerGinger
Typically reserved for expectant mothers and sea travelers, the ginger root can do much more than ease nausea. Much like the cherry, ginger can be beneficial in reducing inflammation[2], particularly offering relief from migraines, muscle pain and arthritis.

Fish
According to Foods that Fight Pain author Dr. Neal D. Barnard, eating fish low in mercury and high in omega-3 fatty acids can help relieve back pain.[3] Omega-3s help improve blood flow by reducing inflammation in blood vessels and nerves. A study published in Pain, the Journal of the International Association for the Study of Pain, suggests that omega-3s provide benefit as an alternative therapy for joint pain and inflammation.[4] 

Mint
Try making mint tea to help with headaches and general aches and pain. Wintergreen leaves in particular contain a compound called methyl salicylate that has been shown to block the  enzymes that cause inflammation and pain.

Hot PeppersHot Peppers
Capsaicin, an ingredient in hot peppers, can help reduce pain. In fact, you may notice that many topical creams contain this as a pain-fighting ingredient.

Do you want to save or share this information? We make it easy! Download your own ‘Foods
that Fight Pain’
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Did you find this information helpful? Do you have foods that you find help your pain? Let
us know in the comments section below!

Get moving. Call (888) 901-PAIN (7246) or click to schedule a consultation now.

[1] Kelley DS et al.(2013) Sweet bing cherries lower circulating concentrations of markers for chronic inflammatory diseases in healthy humans. Journal of Nutrition. March; 143(3):340-4.

[2] Grzanna et al. (2005) Ginger—An Herbal Medicinal Product with Broad Anti-Inflammatory Actions. Journal of Medicinal Food. Volume: 8 Issue 2.

[3] Barnard, N. (2010). Foods that Fight Pain: Revolutionary New Strategies for Maximum Pain Relief. Harmony.

[4] Goldberg, Robert J; Katz, Joel. (2007) A meta-analysis of the analgesic effects of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation for inflammatory joint pain. Volume 129, Issue 1 , Pages 210-223.

Published in Foods
Wednesday, 15 November 2017 13:52

Resources To Help You Quit Smoking

Reasons to Quit SmokingStudies show that individuals who smoke cigarettes are more at risk for developing pain. If you are interested in more information about how to quit smoking, take a look at a few resoruces we’ve compiled that can help you on your way to smoke-free living.

Looking for more helpful tips and information about pain? Download our FREE pain guide now for detailing information you need to know on pain.

Interested in more information about pain prevention? Subscribe to our blog now to get weekly emails from our team of expert pain management physicians or join the over 23,000 people who subscribe to our monthly eNewsletter. You can also follow our #KnowYourPain series on Facebook and Twitter to stay current with all of our educational resources.

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Published in Smoking
Wednesday, 15 November 2017 08:05

A Relaxation Technique: Guided Imagery

Relaxation has many health benefits including: lowering blood pressure, reducing active stress hormones, reducing muscle tension and chronic pain and improving concentration and mood. We understand it can be difficult to find the time to use relaxation so here is a quick relaxation technique that can be used anywhere. 

Guided imagery is a relaxation technique where you use your imagination to picture a time, place or person that makes you feel relaxed. Guided imagery requires you to use all of the senses to relaxation. For example, you could imagine you hear the sounds of birds chirping, a breeze on your skin, the reflection of the sky in the water, the smell the fresh cut grass or the taste of your favorite beverage. This type of relaxation technique can take as little or as much time as you need.

First, find a quiet place and get into a comfortable position. Next choose your setting and then imagine yourself there; use all of your senses. Remember to include as many details as possible. Take a deep breath and let the scene play out.

It is important to remember that there isn’t a right or wrong way to relax; you need to do what works best for you. Relaxation is a skill, and it is important to practice the skill to get better.

 

Sources: 

http://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/stress-management-doing-guided-imagery-to-relax

Published in Acute and Chronic Pain
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